• Plastic

    Plastic vs. Paper – The debate

    When identifying opportunities to reduce plastic useage, it is important to carefully review the impact of alternative materials. Many alternatives to plastic do not achieve the desired environmental benefits (i.e. they may have a higher carbon footprint, or have a detrimental environmental impact if not disposed of correctly). Changes to materials need to consider function, purpose and full-life environmental impact. The greatest mitigation of negative impacts on the environment is reuse. Plastic bags reused just 3-4 times are more environmentally friendly than a single use paper bag.

    Suppliers with ideas or innovations that would help to reduce our environmental impact are welcome to contact our Energy and Environment team via newsupplierenquiries@jdplc.com.

    More information on the plastic debate and our journey within it, can be found via the case study below:

    How we mitigate the impact of using plastic

    • Reuse
      We created a quality plastic drawstring bag for our consumers which, with an over the shoulder cord, is designed perfectly to carry anything from P.E. kits, to a change of clothes, to shopping. The JD bag is so popular that it is widely resold on eBay! Our JD drawstring bag is classified as a ‘bag for life’, but we still apply the carrier bag levy fee to this bag, with all proceeds going to The JD Foundation.
    • Reduce
      We have created a “junior” sized JD drawstring bag for smaller items, using 39% less plastic than the “adult” size equivalent.

    We have increased our standard and junior drawstring bags from 33% to 50% recycled material, with the first new specification bags arriving in store in late 2018. Since then, 50% recycled material has become our new standard specification for JD drawstring bags.

    More information on how we try to encourage reuse and reduce the amount of plastic can be found in the Case Study below:To find out more about our approach to the use of plastic, please check our Annual Report.


    Approximately 90% of the Group’s sales come from products supplied by third party brands. The Group’s two principal brands are Nike and adidas who are recognised as industry leaders with regards to driving sustainability within the design and development of their product ranges. The balance of the Group’s sales relates to private label products and there is an ongoing project, led at a senior level, to review options on improving the sustainability of our manufactured garments with consideration to engage with the internationally recognised Higg Index of the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition) which would aid in our progression.

    Whilst the Group is not a formal member of the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) programme, it does have an effective due diligence and risk assessment programme in this area, supported by 18 months of data, and so is able to confirm that there are no hazardous chemicals in its private label product ranges.

    As with many fashion retailers, planning is key to sustainability and the reduction of airfreight of product was a focus for JD Sports.  With better sourcing, planning and forecasting across departments we have been able to reduce dramatically our intake of airfreighted product by 76% in 2019 from 2018 and we will continue to maintain this strategy recognising that reducing our carbon footprint is critical to increasing our sustainability.

    JD Sports is committed to integrating sustainability into our business and this includes the design and development of those products we can influence with our private label brands. As with all projects, research and planning is the key to success.

    The project started in June 2018 and began with the mapping of a sustainable design process.

    The considerations are Availability, Affordability, Aesthetics and Performance.  Sustainability is not currently cost neutral due to availability of supply and demand.  JD accepts that this is a cost that will be absorbed into the business and reduced margins are a consequence.  Our design and development teams will strive to engineer the product from the beginning of the lifecycle to aim to combat the constraints we currently face.

    From the understanding of this process, a Product Map evolved which detailed the challenges and opportunities within the development of our products to integrate sustainability into our brands.

    Our aim is to reduce the use of Virgin Polyester and increase our use of Responsibly Sourced Cotton.  For ease we will call this sustainable cotton.

    Sustainable cotton ensures that farmers are trained in methods of water reduction and the farms are economically irrigated whilst also ensuring they receive a fair wage.

    Recycled Polyester in our garments is made from rPET (recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate).The process entails the melting down of existing plastic and re-spinning it into new polyester fibre.  5 soda bottles provide enough fibre for one XL T shirt. rPET is considered to be comparable with Virgin polyester but uses less resources.  Production requires 59% less energy compared to Virgin polyester.  WRAP estimates rPET production reduces C02 emissions by 32%.

    The manufacturing process uses less crude oil and reduces landfill.

    From October 2019 to March 2020 , the outcome of the research and implementation of the strategy has resulted in 1,662,700 garments identified on line with a sustainability “flag” (Gold, Silver , or Bronze) which represents 23% of the private label offer for that period.

    Our aim is to achieve upwards of 2 million pieces by December 2020.

    To learn more about the research we have utilised to improve sustainability in our clothing ranges, please access the report below:

    Recycling and Waste Management

    Increasing Recycled Content (plastic bags):

    • Historically, the JD drawstring bag used 33% recycled material. This is above the February 2019 HM Treasury target minimum of 30% recycled material.
    • In late 2018, we trialled a 50% recycled material bag and are fully deploying this new design across JD stores in the UK, Europe, and all international territories.
    • We are always looking at ways to increase use of recycled and environmentally friendly content. In early 2019 we sampled compostable bags (made from thistles), and we will continue to review and test new materials to the market.

    Increasing Recycled Content (online packaging):

    • We now use 100% recycled material for our online packaging
    • By choosing to use recycled material and avoiding virgin material, the 2018 equivalent embodied carbon saving was 490t co2e*. The equivalent co2 saved is 4,273,043km travelled by plane, or 106 flights around the world!

    Suppliers with ideas or innovations that would help to reduce our environmental impact are welcome to contact our Energy and Environment team via newsupplierenquiries@jdplc.com.

    For more information on what we are doing to increase the use of recycled content across our business, please read the case studies below:

    Office Recycling and Waste Management

    2019 Latest - up to 98% landfill diversion
    • Segregating waste offsite has enabled us to achieve landfill diversion rates of 98% for waste produced in our last measured period.
    • Our landfill diversion percentage has increased year on year from 91% in 2017, even as our colleague numbers and office space continues to grow.
    • We are presently investing in improving our segmentation of recyclable materials at our Kingsway distribution centre, and aim to transition over 50% of general waste into new, pre-sorted recyclate channels.

    For more information on our policies regarding recycling and waste management, please read the following case study: